Flip through the channels tonight and see if you can catch Magic Johnson’s Aspire, a new television network aimed at reaching black families with quality content. Johnson’s network, which launched on Wednesday, is currently available in about 7 million homes and in 16 of the top 25 African-American markets, including New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Washington. Some Time Warner Cable and Comcast customers may also have access to the channel as well.
Johnson partnered with the GMC, formerly known as the Gospel Music Network, in Atlanta to help launch the network. GMS provides Aspire with operational infrastructure. Although Johnson won’t release exactly how much he’s spending to launch the network, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, he does states that “it takes $100 (million) or $150 million just to turn the lights on and really get it going — and we’re gonna be in that neighborhood.”
But Johnson has already secured big names advertisers Coca-Cola Co., Chrysler, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., L’Oreal and Nationwide Insurance. He even projects his network may break even in a year.
“I’ve been doing business almost as long as I’ve been playing basketball,” he said to Bloomberg Businessweek. “I bought a radio station when I was 19 years old, when I first got drafted by the Lakers.”
In addition, to Johnson it’s more about the mission of the network than its cost.
“Focus groups told us African-Americans want more family content on TV,” Johnson said on Wednesday a few hours before the launch party. “If they would have told me, ‘We don’t need another channel, there’s not an opportunity for you,’ we wouldn’t be sitting here.”
Johnson notes that the family driven content and positive African American images, as well as the targeted age group will separate his network from others in the African American demographic. He says that his network will skew older than both BET and TV One.
“Blacks want options; they want variety, like everybody else,” he said. “There’ll be enough viewers for all of us. So everybody wins.”
Aspire’s current lineup consists of acquisitions such as “The Bill Cosby Show,” “Julia,” and “The Flip Wilson Show.” It will also include movies, documentaries, music, comedy and faith and inspirational programming.
Johnson foresees Aspire will be able to reach 12 million homes by the end of the year, 20-30 million homes by the end of 2013, and 40 million homes in two years.
More on Madame Noire Business!
- Bar Owners, Party Throwers & DJs: African-American Women Making It In The Nightlife Business
- How She Made It: Maria Lee-Driver Discusses The Success of Her Skincare Line Oria’s O’Shay’s
- Entrepreneur Spotlight: Shafonne Myers, Founder and Owner of Pretty Pear Bride Magazine
- Behind the Click: Shellye Archambeau, CEO of MetricStream
- Do Black Designers Skip Over Black Models to Gain White Customers?
- How She Made It: Alia Jones-Harvey, Producer of A Streetcar Named Desire